The forgotten quarter of French capital? By tourists, maybe. By locals, no. At least if you’re not one of those living in the South of Paris and being scared of the North (yes, I’ve met those). This is not my first post about the 20th arrondissement (check out Rue Dénoyez and some street art: one, the other) and will probably not be the last, if only I can make myself take photographs of my everyday environment.
The thing is … I now live right next to it, more precisely right below Menilmontant. Consequently, the park I go to when completely without energy, not particularly sinisterly humoured and so not deciding for Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, but in a desperate need of air is the one of the climbing steps of Parc de Belleville. Where the shadows don’t spare their gentleness and where flies attack you in between the bushes. Small, not the most beautiful one in Paris, but sort of pretty and filled with families on sunny days. The one where street art blossoms and which tourists hardly find. If you do, climbing to the very top is obligatory or at least highly recommended. Or do take the street art tour that initially opened my eyes when I was still just another visitor to the city.
And then … there is that energy and a different smell to the air I sometimes inexplicably feel, although it is not really a particular smell. Is it just the pollution? It’s so different to the neighbouring 11th arrondissement which is officially my home that you can’t even compare their biggest avenues. Can it really be only the prevailing immigrants or better their descendants? The typical French cafés, but a bunch of shops that seem to belong somewhere else, the South or the East… But no, there are right where they are meant to be. (My sister recently asked me if I intend to cruise around them a bit anytime soon, since she cannot come this year and really wants another pair of that comfy Chinese pants, and to my (mis)fortune tight budget isn’t a solid excuse there…)
Just don’t expect something when you go here, especially not Paris from the pictures. This is not the fancy river bank and it is not the artsy Montmartre neither. Let’s only hope the process of gentrification is never completed here.